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5 dull facts about Vancouver you (probably) didn't know

And why would you?
Clockwise from left: One of the first parking meters in Vancouver, one of the first traffic signals in Vancouver, one of the first street lights (above the pub entrance) in Vancouver, and a telephone switchboard in the midst of being removed as dial telephones became more popular.

There are lots of fascinating facts about Vancouver; we've written about hundreds of them.

However, there are millions of facts about Vancouver. These are some of those. They're not the Quinn Hughes, aquarium sea otters or Canada Place sails. They're more akin to the Mark Friedman (apologies), Atlantic spiny lumpsucker or 1072 Denman St. They're a part of Vancouver history, but not the parts people get as excited for.

These facts are kind of like that.

1. First electrical lights (1887)

Electricity in Vancouver is a pretty basic part of life, but the city was founded just before it became commonplace.

In 1887 the Vancouver Electric Illuminating Company did just what their name implies and started lighting the city. They first switched on on Aug. 8, 1887.

Using a boiler as a generator, the company powered 250 outside lights (including street lights) and 250 inside lights.

2. First consulate was Chile (1892)

One might expect France or the USA to open the first consulate in Vancouver. Italy, China, and Japan might also be reasonable guesses, giving the early days of the city.

But it was the South American nation of Chile that had the first consulate in the city, and by some margin.

That was because of Máximo Patricio Morris. He was named honorary consul in 1892, which came with actual responsibility. That included dealing with mail between the city and country, communicating with Chile when a Chilean person passed in Vancouver and some translations.

In 1897 he was named Consul General, a more official title.

Aside from Morris, there was a notable Chilean presence in Vancouver as sailors often travelled up and down the coast of the Americas, and Canada and Chile have plenty of coastline and occupy the two extremes as far as significant shipping routes (Alaska was sparsely populated at the time).

3. First automatic traffic signals (1928)

Traffic lights are a given in today's city, but before October 1928 police were responsible for controlling busy intersections.

In October the first traffic signals in the city were installed at Main and Hastings (turned on on Oct. 18) followed by Granville and Robson.

At the time they were just test signals, as the city decided on which ones were best to install.

4. First dial phone (1939)

Technically called "telephones on automatic switchboards" at the time (according to a Stats Canada document) the first dial telephones were a fast growing technology in the late 1930s.

By 1939 they'd made it to the west coast and Vancouver installed the first sets, at the same time as Moncton, N.B., and Peterborough, Ont. made the switch.

At the time B.C. had about 12.3 telephones per 100 residences.

5. First parking meters (1946)

Coin-operated parking meters almost seem quaint now, as digital meters replace them, but there was a time not all that long ago that there were no meters on the sides of streets.

The first ones showed up in 1946 and cost a nickel for an hour (that's about $0.84 in 2024 dollars).